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Salt Lake To Open Temporary Homeless Shelter

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Salt Lake Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced a new temporary homeless shelter in Sugarhouse that will offer 145 additional beds overnight this winter.

She gave details about the plan at the steps of the City County Building Thursday night.

“Today on day 11 of my administration I’m proud to announce that we have a plan,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “Every single person who seeks shelter during the winter months should have access to a safe, warm place to sleep and an ability to connect with services. This is fundamental human right.”

A city-owned vacant building at 2234 Highland Drive is an old Deseret Industries building that sits in the heart of Sugarhouse, near restaurants and shops.

Salt Lake City leaders announce temporary plans for homeless staying outside in parts of the city.

Posted by KSL 5 TV on Thursday, January 16, 2020

“It’s become a really nice neighborhood,” said David Tran, before walking into one of its many restaurants. “I think it’s great to help out the homeless as long as they don’t make it permanent here.”

Mayor Erin Mendenhall said city, county and state partners have worked together for weeks to open a new temporary homeless shelter. It’s a plan that comes amid rising tensions surrounding the number of people on the streets and the amount of resources available.

For homeless advocates, Thursday’s announcement was a win.

“I mean, I’m really amazed,” said Bill Tibbitts with Crossroads Urban Center. “It’s winter. It’s cold and people freeze to death. That’s what homeless shelters are there for, is to keep people alive during the winter.”

In a press release the city said, “The Weigand Center at 235 S Rio Grande St. will continue to function as a day shelter and the central hub for homeless services. However, it will no longer function as an overnight warming center. Instead, transportation will be provided to the Sugar House Temporary Shelter from the Weigand Center in the evening and return in the morning to connect back to services at the Weigand Center, making the Sugar House Temporary Shelter available only overnight.”

Chief Mike Brown with the Salt Lake Police Department said they haven’t seen an increase in crime near the city’s other shelters, and he doesn’t anticipate a different outcome at the Sugarhouse shelter.

“The Salt Lake City Police Department will make sure that those areas are safe and secure for all residents,” Chief Brown said.

The city still needs to make upgrades to the Sugarhouse building before its anticipated opening in the coming days. The Red Cross is providing 145 cots, and the city still needs to arrange a shuttle service to and from the shelter and The Weigand Center.

“There hasn’t been a time that snow has fallen from the sky since I’ve been elected that I haven’t thought first about the people on the street,” said Mendenhall.

The temporary shelter is only intended to be open during the 2020 winter through April 15.